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The

Cruising Lifestyle

Cruising Magazine of Stamford Discovery Cruise Center November/December 2011

Chase for the

Northern Lights A Fulfillment of Life’s Journey p. 18

Cruise Ship Wedding

Christmas Markets of Europe Winter festivities of X’mas p.40

Perfect Wedding On The Seas p. 6 PLUS BONUS Feature on TOP 10 Cruise Wedding Destinations p.9

Hoshinoya Kyoto Retreat in Arashiyama p.30

Oceania Riviera Redefining Luxury p.13


What’s INSIDE November/December 2011

Contents 13

18

Oceania Riviera

40

31

Foreword 4

From the Seahorse’s Mouth Romance of Winter

6

Cruise Ship Wedding Perfect Wedding on the seas

9

25 Foodies Goodies Why Celebrity Chefs are Irresistible!

30 Hoshinoya Kyoto Magic & Romance of Arashiyama

TOP 10 Cruise Wedding Destinations 40 Christmas Markets of Europe

Check out our TOP 10 LIST

Winter festivities of Christmas

13 Oceania Riviera Redefining Luxury on Oceania’s new ship

18 Chase for the Northern Lights A Fulfillment of Life’s Journey

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From The Seahorse’s Mouth!!

Editor’s Note Romance of Winter We have come to the end of the year in the blink of an eye. Something that immediately springs to mind will be winter, snow and Christmas. With the entire Northern hemisphere going into Winter, there’s a wide variety of options and countries to indulge in the winter cold. Even for cruises for that matter, you can look forward to winter Christmas markets cruises in Eastern Europe or perhaps get onboard an expedition ship to the Arctic. This issue is going to be very exciting because it’s a WINTER ISSUE. Plus…we will also recommend some of the cruises and destinations to watch out for in the new year. Enjoy the festivities and let us all start counting down to our deserved end of year vacation.

David Song David Song Editor david.song@stamfordtravel.net

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Cruise Ship Wedding

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In this column, we document weddings. It’s not just any other weddings but weddings onboard a cruise ship, while on cruise vacationing and why getting married onboard is inexpensive, easy to arrange and gets on well with your guests. Let’s explore…. Getting married? Well, it’s certainly one of the most important event in one’s life and a life decision. While the day of your life will be memorable and probably the most special, let’s acknowledge the fact that it does takes its toll sometimes and for those who are planning their wedding are often toiled by the laborious arrangements, having to oversee the planning, sequence of events, preparing guest lists. The list just goes on and on. It’s even more maddening if your invited guests does not show up or worse, attend with young screaming kids and cranky babies. Welcome to cruise ship weddings, a great concept of a “wedcation” (wedding & vacation), a great concept to arrange a wedding at some of the world’s greatest destinations and enjoying a more relaxed mood for that walk down the aisle. For example, if you are sailing in Hawaii, you can skip the tuxedo and pants with a coat or shirt over a matching bermudas. The bride can be adorned in more fanciful colors instead of the usual and overrated wedding white. While weddings should be sacred, nobody dictate the law that it can’t be fun. After all, it’s supposed to be memorable. There are many advantages of holding a cruise wedding. The fun and relaxed element. Even the guests., you can invite them on a vacation and you don’t have to foot the catering costs of a banquet or buffet. Meals onboard are FREE & INCLUDED. All you have to do is to pay a token service charge or token of appreciation. Voila!

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While we talk about cruise ship weddings, the destinations play a huge part too. A cruise vacation is a hassle-free holiday and to spice up your cruise ship wedding plans, there’s a whole lot of destinations to suit your theme. From fun-indulging Hawaii & Tahiti to the awesome landscapes of Alaska. How about the spice of the Mediterranean & Aegean – think Santorini, Venice, Marseille, Barcelona, Dubrovnik? Perhaps even the exotic and samba lands of Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires in South America. For the romantics, you can set sail on intimate river cruises in Europe or timeless Egypt on the Nile. Many bridal boutiques in Singapore have evolved in recent years with more choices for destination photography as well as gowns rental. Couples can now do wedding photography in many exciting ports of call now. The traditional wedding photography usually takes place in only a city due to logistical problems and high cost for ground arrangements and transportation. But on a cruise, all these problems are eliminated and providing better flexibility. For example, if a couple chose a Mediterranean cruise to Italy, Spain and France, they can potentially have their wedding photography in Barcelona, Marseille, Sicily, Venice and the likes every day. Depending on the amount of time the couple has in between touring and photography, the opportunity to do that represents a greater value. If you are inviting just families and close friends to your wedding on a cruise, that just makes it a bonus. It can be mentioned as a vacation and they will be most obliged to pay for their own travels and get to enjoy the best of both worlds, attending your wedding while vacationing. This trend is certainly picking up and are getting more popular with maverick Singaporeans who wanted a different and unique wedding experience.

The Love Boat

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Need a little help on where are the most beautiful and romantics destinations for a great Cruise Ship Wedding? Here are our Top 10 Cruise Wedding Destinations… # 10 Cheju Island, South Korea Cheju Island in South Korea is one of the most popular destinations in this region and is virtually a must on any visitor’s itinerary when visit Korea. During Spring and Summer , the flowers are in full bloom and is covered in a sea of yellow rape flowers and azaleas which is a sight for the senses. The island is also full of local folk cultures and breathtaking prehistoric volcanic sights making Cheju Island a top wedding destination

# 9 Alaska, USA As global warming picks up, so does tourism to Alaska for many feared that the ice caps and snow glaciers will eventually defrost. In truth, Alaska has always been an exceptional and top wedding and honeymoon destination. Time stands still almost without your control and actualizing your wedding in the landscapes of Alaska is truly a worthy experience in one’s life.

# 8 Majorca Island, Spain Welcome to tennis ace, Rafael Nadal’s home. Majorca Island in Spain is a popular Summer retreat for Spaniards and Europeans. Many Spaniards own holiday homes on the island for a great and pleasant Summer vacation amidst the nice Mediterranean weather , food and fantastic sights and the beach. The island is almost picture-perfect from every angle and presents a nice and cozy setting for that dream wedding in mind. Toast that off with a glass of Palo.

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# 7 Koh Samui, Thailand Somewhere nearer to home is the unmistakable Koh Samui in Thailand. Koh Samui is growing in stature with much focus on tourism and is an ever-growing and popular resort destination for many Singaporeans. Koh Samui. With its pristine beaches and range of activities and beautiful sights, it is a great choice to hold a wedding and represents a less significant expenditure to avoid breaking the bank.

# 6 Hawaii, USA An almost automatic entry into most’s Top 10 in any category. Hawaii remains a top wedding destination . The Hawaiian islands offers a wide variety of lifestyle and leisure activities to suit even the most discerning of travelers. Norwegian Cruise Line offer travelers the chance to cruise island hopping and if you are there for wedding photography, then you will have the contrasts of 4 main islands of Big Island, Maui, Oahu and Kauai as the subjects of envy your friends.

# 5 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil The party capital of Brazil and possibly the world. Rio de Janeiro is a city that has no limits to fun and virtually without rules to observe. The beaches, history, sights, slums and of course…the party all makes Rio a really top choice to wed. The only disadvantage however could be the long flying time to South America. Fret not though, you can always embark on a cruise from Spain and leave the jetlag on your return flight home.

# 4 Maldives The jewel of the Indian Ocean and The Maldives is a paradise like no other and surely needs no further introduction. The atolls nation has seemingly achieve a reputation of being one of the costliest destinations in the world but on a cruise, that’s a totally different matter altogether. Cruises usually thread the waters of Maldives, Mauritius & Seychelles so you do not need to break the bank for a sensory threat . Say your vows out on the atolls?

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Now we have come down to our TOP 3 Cruise Wedding Destinations

Here ‘s the # 3 Venice, Italy The charm of Venice, its romantic air and anticipation leaves little to the imagination. The much celebrated Venice is simply poetry in motion. A wedding entrance by gondola to receive your bride on the Rialto Bridge perhaps or come in a Venetian mask ready to celebrate your wedding in a masquerade party. Quite simply a destination that oozes charisma, charm and lock in an old world.

# 2 Santorini, Greece Santorini, like many of the Greek islands exudes an unmistakable charm synonymous with the marriage between the Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea. Santorini is the most frequented destination for weddings and actual wedding photography. The white-washed buildings and blue-domed chapels in contrast with the glorious sunset paints a bewitching picture of serenity and contentment in a fusion of contemporary modernity and classic Mediterranean flavor.

# 1 Bora Bora, Tahiti Our undisputed NUMBER ONE simply due to the fact that it’s an unmatched setting. Its clear turqoise waters, rich reefs and atolls and the almost unbelievable sights just makes you wonder whether God has decided to create a place that’s as stunning as illusion. With a deeper budget, then Bora Bora in Tahiti has to be the TOP CHOICE. Fortunately, going on a cruise to the Polynesian nation gives great value and you do not need to burn a hole in your pocket.

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The comfortable elegance of a Princess Cruises vacation offers everything you could need from a wide variety of freshly prepared cuisine to activities for any age, style or mood

What does it mean to sail with the Consummate Host? You’ll be right at home without a care in the world as the warm, welcoming service of our staff and crew anticipates your every need

From the breathtaking wilderness of Alaska to exotic destinations around the globe. Princess offers over 300 ports of call on more than 130 itineraries


Redefining Luxury on Oceania Riviera The brand new Riviera, which will debut in April 2012, along with its sister Marina, are the most beautiful, elegant and sophisticated ships to debut in the past 50 years. Designer touches are everywhere, from the magnificent Lalique Grand Staircase and stunning Owner’s Suites furnished in Ralph Lauren Hime, they are showcases of the finest residential design and furnishings. More than anything, the new Riviera will personify the “Oceania Experience”. Comfortably mid-size, Riviera retain the same warmth and charm of acclaimed consorts of Regatta, Insignia and Nautica. While the country club casual ambience and level of personalized service remain the same, Riviera offer even more choice and some enticing new amenities. As the first ships designed for lovers of fine dining and travel experiences, Riviera offer guests a total of 10 dining venues, of which six are openseating gourmet restaurants with no surcharge. La Reserve by Wine Spectator offers enlightening wine and food pairings. The new Bon Appetit Culinary Center is the only hands-on cooking school at sea. Similarly, artists-in-residence teach fine arts in Artists Loft, a new enrichment center. For specialty coffees and snacks, there is Baristas Coffee Bar. Intimate lounges abound. Accommodations in every category are incredibly spacious, especially with regard to the lavish bathrooms. Yet remarkably, with so many additions, the onboard ambience and experience remains comfortably familiar. Oceania Cruises has yet again retained everything its guests adored about its ships and raised the bar ever higher.

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Even the most lavish superlatives fail to adequately describe the thee Owner’s Suites onboard. With rich furnishings from Ralph Lauren Home, each spans the entire beam of the ship and measures more than 2000 square feet. Boasting a large living room and dining room, spacious bedroom and a king-sized Prestige Tranquility Bed, sumptuous bathroom, his and hers walk in closets, and a dramatic entry foyer and music room overlooking the sea, they are fully palatial. A professional entertainment system with flat screen televisions, 3D movies, and media library is provided as well as a laptop and iPad with wireless access. Indoor and outdoor whirlpool spas beckon you for a relaxing soak – the latter has a flat-screen television for alfresco viewing. Enjoy en-suite gourmet dining from any of its six restaurants, served course by course by the butlers. No expense has been spared to ensure passenger’s total satisfaction.

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Award-Winning Canyon Ranch SpaClub – with its family of destination health resorts, hotels wellness communities and SpaClub facilities – has been acknowledged world leader in healthy living expertise, and a haven of luxury, comfort and warmth for 30 years. Passengers can enjoy acupuncture, ayurveda, massages and oher wellness therapy in a luxurious and indulgent setting.

Passengers can also immerse themselves in the joy of cooking gourmet cuisine in the Bon Appetit Culinary Center. It’s the world’s only hands on culinary studio at sea, a distinction that elevates the onboard gourmand experience to a level of participation far beyond even the grandest expectations. With such a dedicated and focused culinary center, a cruising experience is far beyond just casino gaming, sightseeing and generic cruising. This is cruising with a difference.

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Join Us on Facebook or log on to www.acres.org.sg

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Chase for the

Northern Lights A fulfillment of Life’s Journey

The Northern Lights have fascinated and hypnotized man for as long as we have graced the planet. The unearthly flame-like lights have been the inspiration of folk tale and legend for generations and since the invention of the camera a holy grail conquest for many enthusiast photographers.

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Named after the Roman Goddess of Dawn (Aurora) and the Greek name for north wind (Boreas), the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis are seen in areas that are within or surround the Arctic Circle for example; Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Canada, Alaska. The mesmerizing wisps are actually solar charged particles reacting with the magnetic field as they make contact with the upper atmosphere gases. The most common lights stargazers are likely to see are the green variety., with the red variant only appearing in tandem with the green. Sometimes the lights are horizontally like an expanse of neon fog, other times in vertical streaks dancing their way across the night sky. – whatever the color or form the results are quite awe-striking and will make for the most wonderful of subjects.

Spring and Autumn are the best times to witness the event(March – April, and September – October), but if you choose to visit in the Winter months you will find temperatures can be extremely cold often between as low as minus 35 degrees celsius! Days in winter are also shorter with less light..

According to experts there is an extraordinary solar storm on the way which happens roughly every 11 years on the solar cycle and experts have forecast 2012 will be one of the most prolific seasons to witness the lights. It is during these times that the lights can be seen further outside the usual areas – especially those with less light pollution.

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There are many ways/destinations and concept to chase for the Northern Lights. First of all, abandon the mentality of seeing it in the first place because it’s not something that should be anticipated or even be demanded. The most interesting aspect of chasing the lights is literally “the chase” itself. Some might point to conquering Mount Everest as the greatest ever challenge but the chase of the northern lights is quite simply a fulfillment of life’s journey, you’ll never know what you will get and whether there’s any truth in the light at the end of the tunnel. Northern lights seen from onboard Hurtigruten Cruises

One of the most comfortable and least daunting ways of chasing the lights is embarking on a cruise. It is also perhaps the most affordable and least hassles. Chasing the lights without the hassles of travelling back and forth along the Norwegian coast be it on internal flights or by train in the freezing cold. Hurtigruten Cruises offers travelers the opportunity of a great cruising option with daily departures 365 days throughout the year. The cruise journey starts in Bergen and embarking on the journey from the beautiful south to the wild and remote north.

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Let the Sky and God be our limit and Eternity our measurement - Marcus Garvery Any Planning Needed? The Northern lights(Aurora) does not occur every evening and there are never any guarantees that it will appear. Firstly, there needs to be storm activity on the Sun’s surface, and this varies considerably. Secondly, the sky needs to be clear. And thirdly, it is important you are outside under the winter sky between 6pm and midnight and not sitting in front of the television in your hotel room. Since the introduction of smoking bans in bars, smokers in the Norwegian city of Tromso experience the Northern Lights more often than nonsmokers, as they now need to go outside to light up! Ensure you are at your most active in the evening as you can always sleep in and relax during the daytime. To capture the Northern lights, allow at the minimum of four to five days to experience the phenomenon.

How else to increase your chances? ~ Go to a dark place away from the city, camp out in the wild with open fire and wait for it ~ Participate in dog-sledding, sleigh ride or a reindeer sleigh or country ski out to the forests. ~ Go on Hurtigruten Cruises with a strong 80% success rate (season and weather depending of course) Lastly, chase the Aurora with an open spirit. Take nothing away from the journey and the landscapes. May luck be with the “True Adventurer”……

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Hurtigruten Cruises offers travelers the opportunity of a lifetime to experience the Aurora Borealis and see the magical landscapes of the rugged coast of Norway and the enchanting Arctic North Cape. Experience a stay in an ice hotel. Maybe indulge in snowmobile or dog-sledding. At Stamford Discovery Cruise Center, we offer you a great value package on the 10 Days Norwegian Coastal Voyage starting from S$3800 inclusive of return airfare on KLM Royal Dutch Airlines from Singapore to Bergen/Oslo via Amsterdam and including a one way internal flight between Kirkenes to Oslo and 6 nights shipboard accommodation on Hurtigruten Cruises and a night stay in the unique ice hotel. Contact us at cruise@stamfordtravel.net with our friendly cruise consultants today!

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Here’s our pick for this Winter… Gearing up for Winter is as COOL as it is for Summer. Let’s check out these gears.

The EU Fusion Triclimate Jacket is our pick for the men. It is versatile, designed for windy and wet conditions and fully breathable. The hood is detachacle and is perfect for winter vacations or winter sports such as skiing. Best of all, it comes in 4 different colors in Asphalt Grey, Ink Blue, TNF Red and Insane Blue…. From The North Face

The W Jubilee LTD Jacker for the fairer sex is a daring pixilated print splashed all over the shell. Looking good while being practical is its strongest trait. It’s Gore-Tex enhanced performance shell is seam-sealed for a total barrier against the snow and it is lightweight too and easy on the packing. From The North Face

The Ultrafit is a fine-knit , close fit style suitable for custom fitted boots. Merino wool and Endurofill help with moisture absorption as well as keeping the cold out and the warmth in. From Bridgedale – Enduring Comfort

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The VentureSafe 25L adventure daypack with exomesh is a versatile and flexible backpack which comes with eXomesh slashguards, Slashproof CarrySafe strap, a Smart Zipper Security and even Turn & Lock Strap Hook. If you are packing in your laptop, it has a padded sleeve designed to protect your lappie against the rough and tumble. From PacSafe – Smart Travel Gear

The Tag Heuer Kirium Formula 1 can parse seconds into hundredths just in case you really do need to time an auto race. The first digital watch in the company’s 140 year history, the watch also incorporates an analog display and this is critical – still looks like a Tag. FromTag Heuer

For the ladies, versatility is the name of the game with the Women’s Talus Ridge Mid Outdry. Designed to strike a perfect balance between burly boot and lightweight active hiker, it integrates low-profile support with the waterproof-breathable superpowers of an Outdry membrane so you can hike, jog, scamble, climb or snowshow in all kinds of conditions. From Columbia

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Foodies Goodies Why Celebrity Chefs Are Irresistible…

In this issue’s Foodies Goodies, we discover the charm of celebrity chefs and find out just why they are so irresistible. Let’s explore deep into the F word…erm…it stands for “Food”. Over the years, there has been an increase of cooking programs on television networks all over the world. You can catch your regular celebrity chef’s presentation and you can even catch it in reality programs like MasterChef. Despite culinary and cooking programs aplenty over the years, it has grown in stature and offering audiences a wider variety and new concepts into the world of culinary; that we all catch celebrity chef shows every now and then is testament that we have a inner desire to put things right in the kitchen department. Decades ago, Delia Smith published her first recipe and in that time the British public’s diet has changed radically under the auspices of a wave of celebrity chefs. Soon enough, the “Delia Effect” was in full flow and supermarket shelves were suddenly emptied of particular items featured on Delia Smith’s TV programmes. Jaime Oliver managed to create a surge in demand for goose fat after he used it to get crispy roast potatoes and so did Nigella Lawson.

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Celebrity chefs have come a long way and their shows have evolved and has incorporated other lifestyle concepts into how the shows are being presented. Take for example, Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” which airs on Discovery Channel’s Travel & Living and also on the Travel Channel where Bourdain visits overseas countries, cities worldwide where hosts treat him to local culture and cuisine. Anthony Bourdain managed to capture imaginations worldwide that food and culinary is part of the greater travel concept and travelling to different parts of the world to showcase the different varieties of cuisine while exposing us to the ideas of travelling, the immersion effect into what lifestyle is all about. Perhaps one of the most influential chefs to have emerge in the last few years….Gordon Ramsay has changed the way we look at food and very much responsible for bringing culinary shows onto “Reality Television”. Programmes such as “The F Word”, “Hell’s Kitchen” featured Ramsay training amateurs and trainees through a series of expletives-filled episodes and raising hell in the kitchen…literally. This new concept orginated by Ramsay kept audiences entertained and intrigued to find out just what his trainees did not do enough. Like Anthony Bourdain, Gordon Ramsay has also ventured into the Culinary Travelogue concept by appearing in “Gordon’s Great Escape. Recently, he was on location in Southeast Asia onboard Pandaw River Cruises while presenting the sights and culinary along the famous Mekong River.

Gordon Ramsay and Pandaw River Cruises crew on the Mekong River

Anthony Bourdain in “No Reservations” exploring worldwide cuisines while travelling

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We live in a celebrity culture nowadays in a way that we mimic and follow the lifestyles of TV stars and pop culture icons. Other than Anthony Bourdain and Gordon Ramsay, others like Jamie Oliver has created a huge impact on the eating habits in his country. Jamie’s famous “Feed Me Better” campaign, encouraging school children to dispense with junk food and eat healthily, brought forward a inspiring political actions when the government took charge to change the school meals system to serve school children healthy, inexpensive food that kids enjoyed eating. Then there is Nigella Lawson, an untrained chef yet embraced by many with her fun, flirtatious and selfindulgent approach to cooking. She provided us the notion that ordinary people like you and me can cook without needing expert skills. Nigella is undoubtedly the “Queen of Food Porn” Yet, many around the world catch her shows and became inspired to cooking. It has become a true lifestyle these days to be able to whip up some delightful bites for your friends and families during gatherings, events. It all adds up to the wholesome cool factor. Attaining knowledge of food and culinary has also become something of a status lifestyle to appreciate cuisines around the world and to inspire people around you to do likewise. Celebrity chefs in this case, has shown us that cooking is indeed cool.

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Flavors of the Caribbean – 7 Days Set sail on Windstar’s most eclectic experience of Caribbean lifestyles and landscapes highlighted by visits to Martinique and Antigua From US$2,299 per person

Capitals of Scandinavia – 7 Days Immerse yourself in Scandinavian culture and lifestyles highlighted by visits to Oslo and Stockholm and an overnight in Copenhagen From US$3,699 per person

Islands of Italy – 7 Days If you’ve already visited the classic cities, experience these intimate, less-travelled islands of Stromboli, Porto Cervo, Porto Vecchio, Lipari, Ischia and Sorrento From US$2,899 per person

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Magic & Romance in 

 

Hoshinoya Kyoto 

Featured Property

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Discover‌Explore Kyoto The Cruising Lifestyle 31


Experience Authentic Japan with Modern Comfort HOSHINOYA offers the world the ultimate in relaxation and comfort, blending the ancient Japanese cultural tradition of the ryokan with the latest in modern architecture. A picturesque nobles’ retreat in the millennial city of Kyoto, HOSHINOYA Kyoto offers a truly private retreat in Arashiyama, the most beautiful hideaway in Kyoto, Japan’s most culture rich city. Behind the concept of HOSHINOYA is a curiosity about what the lifestyle and scenery of modern Japan would have been if it embraced its unique culture a little more and yet continued to modernize. HOSHINOYA Kyoto is thus a vision of Authentic Japan, one that seeks to treasure the traditional values of each region, its harmony with nature and its culture while accepting a modern sensibility.

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All HOSHINOYA Kyoto guest accommodations feature a view of the Ooigawa River, delighting those who stay here with the changing scenery of the seasons. Take time to relax in the rooms, which combine traditional Japanese architecture with modern comfort. Each room is furnished in the modern Japanese style, with bench sofas and the other comforts of the present day. The rooms are built in the sukiya “tea house� style of the 17th Century Japan, and softly lit to bring out the Kyoto-style paper patterning. They feature a generous amount of the cedar wood used since antiquity for shrines and temples. Enjoy the beauty of Japanese tradition.

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The HOSHINOYA Kyoto is not just another tourist accommodation. It is an experience to soak in all Kyoto and the surrounds and in particular to Arashiyama can offer. HOSHINOYA Kyoto offers guests a complete and organic experience to the essence of Kyoto with its seasonal activities such as “Ukai fishing”, tea ceremony, chrysanthemum incense making class and more. Here are some of the sightseeing opportunities you can enjoy. The HOSHINOYA is also a proud member of Small Luxury Hotels of The World

Togetsukyo Bridge Togetsukyo Bridge was given its name in 1272 by retired Emperor Kameyama, who upon seeing it one cloudless night remarked that the moon seemed to “walk across the bridge” . The bridge is famous for moonlight and also a place for sightseeing in all four seasons.

Tenryuji Temple This zen temple was established in 1339 in memory of the Emperor Daigo II on the site of a villa built by the Emperor Kameyama. It is now an UNESCO World Heritage Site .

Sagano Romantic Train From Torokko Saga train station, contiguous to the JR Saga Arashiyama station, take the “Torokko” tourist train 7.3 kilometres to Torokko Kameoka. The journey takes you on a romantic, ravishing views of the changing scenery through mountains and flowing rivers

Rickshaw Ride Enjoy a rickshaw ride through the bamboo grove, rivers, townscape and stop at will with your friendly and cheerful rickshaw pullers who will provide you an authentic glimpse of what Arashiyama represents and why they are so passionate about their job


Kyoto was the former capital of Japan and the Emperor’s residence from 794 to 1868. It is now the country’s seventh largest city with a population of 1.4 million people and a modern face. Over the centuries, Kyoto was destroyed by many wars and fires, bur due to its historic value, the city was dropped from the list of target cities for atomic bomb and spared from air raids during World War II. Countless temples, shrines and other historically priceless structures survive in the city today. Kyoto is easily accessible from Osaka and is just an hour by bus from Osaka Kansai Airport. One can visit Kyoto on an extended trip covering nearby Osaka, Nara, Kobe and perhaps even Tokyo which is just about 3 hours on the Shinkansen bullet train ride.

Sights of Kyoto Not To Be Missed!

Kiyomizudera Temple famous for its large wooden terrace

Kinkakuji – Temple building covered in gold

Gion –Kyoto’s most famous geisha district

Fushimi Inari Shrine – Ultimate Torii gate experience

Nijo Castle – former Kyoto residence of the shogun

Nishiki Market – fresh food market street in central Kyoto

Ginkakuji – Beautiful temple not actually covered in silver

Arashiyama – pleasant district on the outskirts of Kyoto and where HOSHINOYA is located


Visit us today at: Marina Square #03-140 Marina Square 6 Raffles Boulevard, Singapore 039594 65 6338 0736

ION Orchard 2 Orchard Turn #B3-28 Singapore 238801 65 6509 8162

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Nikon D7000 – Here to Save The Night! Our featured camera in this issue, the Nikon D7000 is designed to capture sensitive and limited light sources through your very eyes.

Rugged and protected

Expansive view

Approx. 100% frame coverage viewfinder

Electronic Virtual Horizon

Precision & durability

Double SD card slots

Intuitive operation

Intelligent power management


Well, after checking out the functions, I must say that I’m amazingly impressed and assured that I’ve finally found the camera that will take me to another level in photography. What really got the nod from me was the built-in camera image retouch function which allows me to realign off-kilter images, adjusting the colors and add special effects without me needing to edit or photoshop it on those applications or from a computer. For aspiring film-makers, you can now do it to your fancy with its movie-editing functions which allows you to trim movie length and also extracting still images. Another feature that I like is the GPS unit where I won’t have a chance to forget where I took those lovely pictures anymore. All details of the location will be automatically traced and can be tagged into any image. I also love the crisp images shot from the Nikon D7000. The images taken were exactly the way my eyes sees it and you can still manage and control the lighting functions to add dynamism into your pictures. That’s how cool it is although the 16 megapixels seems daunting. But with all that, I can move seamlessly from an amateur photographer to a professional without much fuss. I’ll strongly recommend this camera for those who are going to the Arctic Circle to catch the Northern Lights in their purest form. The only minus is the price which is a cool SGD$4000 but I felt that it is a sound investment for something with real and high quality

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For many in Europe, Christmas is a time of celebration and joyous experience for all to enjoy yet many of us may not have experience at hand how authentic and amazing the Christmas markets meant. Let us set foot in the different parts of Europe to experience it all A certainty is that during the lead up to Christmas, Europe will be transiting from the Summer gloss to Winter vibrancy, elaborate lightings, Christmas decorations, pastries and delightful winter treats are in store for locals and visitors alike. It’s Yuletide time‌and the season for consolidation and reflection of the months past. Like a haunting lure, hymns and carols are played and sung to capture in the Christmas festivities. Stores selling gifts, decorative items and souvenirs and the aroma of gingerbread and sausages fills the air with an exciting anticipation.

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Local traditions abound in many parts of Europe and storytelling through puppet shows are a common sight in cities such as Salzburg, Stuttgart, Strasbourg and in many parts of Eastern Europe. The markets are where the romance of the holiday comes alive in grand tradition. The cold wintry air is made to feel warm by the festivities and the embrace of the people. It’s also the time to experience the authenticity of years gone by when modern shopping malls aren’t in existence. Suddenly, the old world charm is made more prominent and the surrounds combines to exude an almost irresistible adoration for anything and everything associated with Christmas.

Travelers who had experienced and gone back to their home countries spoke of their sensational experience and thus created more exposure and this invigorates the Christmas period and providing the onus for many parts of Europe to expand its focus. Despite more commercialism, the Christmas markets does not lose its identity and what it means as in truth, it is still very much for the locals than the excited and glee-in-face tourists.

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Historical records dates back to the late thirteenth century where during the formative era of these markets in medieval times, were scenes of nativity where villagers came together to retell the story of the birth of Jesus. Even in those days, commercial opportunities were realized with the huge crowd and thus gave birth to the Christmas markets to provide entertainment, trading and carnival-esque festivities for everyone to bask in. Back in middle-age times, “tourism� was already in existence and thrilled by the prospects of the markets, enterprising traders and missionaries spread the Christmas markets to many other parts of Europe.

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There are many touring options these days for the modern traveler. The Christmas markets experience are now incorporated into many touring itineraries providing a real value and treat for travelers. Tour operators like Insight Vacations and Trafalgar offer a few itineraries which allow travelers to soak in the Christmas markets festivities, even including Christmas meals on selected dates. While river cruises such as AMA Waterways and Uniworld also offer travelers a great introspective take on the Christmas markets. For the independent travelers, they can take in as much as they wanted to fulfill a dream, a vision. Whichever way you choose to travel, the Christmas markets experience is one that you will never quickly forget, and for us grown-ups, we will be happy to be transported back to a time to relive or to fulfill a childhood fantasy we never had.

AMA Waterways offer travelers many cruising options during the Christmas markets

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Christmas Time Cruise


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Chase The Spectacular Northern Lights!

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The Cruising Lifestyle Ezine Nov/Dec 2011